Triangle Jewish community gathers to mourn victims of terrorist attack in Israel

Tuesday, October 10, 2023
Triangle Jewish community gathers to mourn victims of terror attacks
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Members of the Triangle Jewish community were joined by faith leaders and elected leaders to mourn the victims of the terrorist attack in Israel.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Members of the Triangle Jewish community were joined by faith leaders and elected leaders to mourn the victims of the terrorist attack in Israel.

"Until you hear from your friends and family, it's very scary. We're living in the information age, so people are in touch with their friends and family through WhatsApp and FaceTime all the time. But if I go on Facebook right now and I'm looking at my friends, almost every single person is posting about somebody that's missing, somebody that's been kidnapped, somebody that they know has been lost. It's really excruciating," said Phil Brodsky, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Raleigh.

Israeli authorities report at least 900 people have died in the attack, carried out Saturday by the terrorist organization Hamas.

"We've been through many wars and skirmishes. But this explosion of barbarism that we see here and the lack of preparedness on the part of Israeli forces is unprecedented," said Jackie Feldman, an Israeli resident who is spending the semester as a visiting professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Feldman, who grew up in the United States, serves as a faculty member at Ben-Gurion University, which has closed because of the ongoing violence.

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"Anguish and concern for our family, our daughter, our son who are in Jerusalem, in our apartment. Anguish how things are going to develop and our sense that the worst of it is still to be revealed," Feldman said.

While some US airlines have temporarily suspended flights to Israel, Feldman and his wife plan on returning once the semester is finished.

"I don't suspect that there will be any restrictions on returning. I grew up in the States, but Israel is my home and has been for the last 45 years. So as much as we are worried about not only our security but about the political situation in Israel that's concerned us over the last year, Jerusalem is home and Jerusalem is the place that we want to return to," said Feldman.

Dolev Zaharony has been similarly tracking reports from his home country.

"It's even more tough because we're not there. We can't really support them in person. I can't put my uniform on and go and help everybody. And so we're doing two things. First is to support our local community, our Jewish and Israeli community," said Zaharony, who moved to the United States eight years ago and now serves as a Board Member for Voice4Israel of North Carolina.

Zaharony served in the Israeli military for 12 years.

"My battalion was all called in. They're all there right now as far as I know. They're fighting and trying to support wherever they can," said Zaharony.

He's working to raise and direct donations to Israeli nonprofits.

"The stories we've been hearing are unheard of," Zaharony said.

In response, Israel has launched a series of airstrikes in Gaza, in which Palestinian Authorities report at least 560 people have been killed.

"I've spent time with all different kinds of Israelis, I've spent times in the Palestinian territories, people want peace there more than anything. Peace with each other, a peaceful co-existence, the right to self-determination. There's an overwhelming desire for that," said Brodsky.

Range of emotions on display as Jewish community deals with Hamas attacks on Israel.

Robin, who didn't want to share her last name because of safety concerns, is a Raleigh native who moved to Israel in 2008. She attended Enloe High School and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill before moving to the Middle East. She told ABC11 that she hasn't been able to fully process what's transpired in the last 72 hours.

"Because I'm in survival mode of keeping us physically and emotionally safe, I don't have the luxury of processing the trauma my country is going through," Robin said.

Because of her observance of the Sabbath, the Orthodox Jewish mother of three couldn't drive or use her phone until sundown on Saturday - and wasn't able to locate her three young children as a result.

"This siren, my children were with their father. But were they with their father? Were they at synagogue? Were they at home? Were they walking on the way? I didn't know," she said.

They've since been reunited, but Robin said the sounds of war - nearby rockets and army planes overhead - continue.

Raleigh resident Steven Rosenberg knows what that feels like. He fought with Israeli Defense Forces in the 1970s - just after the Yom Kippur War - and now, his son Daniel is living near Tel Aviv with his pregnant wife and their two children.

"They've had to run to the bomb shelter with two young kids. They keep their shoes on all the time because they never know where they have to run down," Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg said the ordeal has provided a humbling and harrowing sense of perspective.

"Be thankful that we have life, and that we're here today, and give everybody an extra hug, because you just don't know," he said.

Rena Sofer is returning to her memorable role as "Lois Cerullo" on ABC's "General Hospital."